Here’s a video tutorial where I make dreadlock beads. Of course this technique could be adapted to other large hole beads, or even smaller ones for jewellery making.
Here’s another video tutorial. In this one I’m making polymer clay components with embedded wire. I was on the struggle bus with this one and I had to alter my plans because the cane I was using was too old and brittle. I left some of the disasters in the video because my problem solving might be useful to someone else.
Since doing the original stream I have stumbled across some other techniques which work slightly better to recondition old canes, but I’m still testing these. If you have any good tips for working with old canes, please put them in the comments!
I’ve just realised that I never put a link here on my blog to a little video that I made a while ago showing how I mix mica powders with water to highlight textures in my unbaked polymer clay. Once added the mica sinks to the bottom and the water evaporates leaving the mica just in the dents.
*I like to use a brand of mica powders that includes a built in binder so I don’t need to varnish the finished beads. I have found that once baked it takes concerted effort to scrape off the mica and since the mica is mostly in the indentations it will be protected from casual wear and tear.
You can find links to all my other free tutorials on this page.
P.S. I got a better camera after making this video. You can see it in action during my streams on Tuesday mornings (10am UK time).
I have started doing a live stream every Tuesday morning at 11am UK time. My camera is aggravating because it keeps changing its autofocus and my mic is not great. I don’t think I’m the world’s expert in polymer clay (often I’m figuring out what I’m doing during the stream) and I’m probably not all that entertaining. So why am I doing it?
I have a couple of reasons.
Mostly I want to talk about beads and polymer clay and, during lockdown, I discovered that the members of my household are not interested. I figure if I want to chat about these things then someone else does too, and maybe they will find me one day.
The other reason that I’m continuing to stream, which has been more of a discovery than a cause, is that it gives me a fixed time where I have to sit down and make something. During lockdown I lost all motivation and sat in my house and sulked. Left to my own devices I procrastinate and avoid starting projects. By having a scheduled time, I have to plan what I’m going to make and even prepare some of the boring parts like conditioning clay so I can just sit down and do the fun bits. (It also helps alleviate the guilt I feel when I’m making beads instead of cleaning the house etc).
Another lovely perk is that my sister, who is in South Africa, usually joins in to watch my stream, so we get to have more regular contact. She’s a watercolour artist and I’m including some of her art in this post for you to enjoy. You can find more of her work on Instagram.
So if you are interested in polymer clay tutorials or would like to chat, please join me on a Tuesday morning. If you can’t join in live then the videos are available for a couple of weeks afterwards. Let me know in the comments if there is something you’d like to see me make and I’ll see what I can do.
Back in May I wrote a blog about my experiment to see if polymer clay was light fast. After that I wondered how the colours would fare directly in the sun. If you remember, I had cut three strips from the same spectrum gradient blend of Fimo Professional “True Colours”. This time I used the strip that had been on my wall in a North facing room as the colours had not changed much (I wanted to preserve the control strip which had been stored in a drawer, and compare to the strip that had been sitting inside on a South facing windowsill). This time I left the piece on a South facing windowsill outside for the summer.
As you can see, this time there is a definite colour change. The strip has faded overall, but the yellow seems particularly affected. The orange and green (when blending with the yellow) have particularly changed while the others have mostly kept their hue but have become paler.
I am a little disappointed that the colours do fade, although the strip is still nice and colourful when not compared to the original colours. I have seen some lovely garden ornaments made from polymer clay and they withstand the elements very well, but it would probably be best to stick to earthy colours when making something intended to go outside. This way a slight shift in hue would not make a big difference. Perhaps there’s a UV protective varnish that can be used to preserve the bright colours?
Since I’ve only tested one brand of polymer clay here: please let me know in the comments if you’ve had any experience with colours changing (or even better – not changing!).
I am continuing to work through my 24oz sample colours and I’ve nearly finished so I decided it was time to use up the scrap cane ends that I had created previously. I used a cane design by Fiona Abel-Smith which creates a colourful pattern that reminds me of crochet Granny Squares.
I made this cane and a few headpins and beads on a live stream earlier this week. If you are interested in how I made them there is a video still available. I haven’t even baked these yet (I like to fill the oven before I do so), so photographing them was a little tricky and is the reason there is glass in the background rather than my usual photo setup.
Of course I didn’t take into account that making a new cane from my scrap ends would result in new scrap cane ends! I think the last beads I make will end up mud tone that I need to texture for interest and add some colour with mica powders or paints.
Anyhow, I think I will soon be finished and able to show you the collection of beads I have made. Let me know if you are doing your own sample challenge as it would be great to share. Stay well, bye for now.
The short answer is “Probably not and I’m definitely not a scientist!”.
Years ago I did a polymer clay painting that I was really pleased with. I even had it framed and it was on display in an art gallery for several months (possibly over a year). However when I got it back the colours looked strange to me. Sure enough when I took it out of the frame there was a definite colour shift visible where it had been under the mount card. I don’t know if it had been in a window or if it was due to the bright shop lighting, but I was really distressed. I was so distressed that I didn’t take a photograph before trying some remedial actions.
To try and save the picture, I carefully scratched off the surface to blend the hard line where the colour changed. You can still see that the foreground is much more yellow at the bottom. I couldn’t do too much of this as I would have lost all the shadows and details added to the surface. You can see more clearly in the next image where I have layered the front and the back of the picture together (both photos taken in the same lighting right after each other).
Because it takes me days to make these paintings, I decided I didn’t want to do any more of them until I could check that the colours would remain as I intended. I couldn’t find any information about the colour fastness of polymer clay, but I did find an article for checking if water colour paints are colourfast. The suggestion was to paint a swatch and then leave it in a sunny place for a year to see if the colours change.
So I made a sheet with a spectrum of colours and cut it into three strips. I made the line wavy so I could fit the pieces together later. I kept one strip in a drawer, one strip on the wall of a room with north facing window and one strip on a south facing windowsill. I don’t know what brands of clay I used for the painting (especially the browns because I blended several scraps to make the colour), but for the test I used Fimo Professional (which at the time was a new product).
I couldn’t see any change for the strip that was on the wall, but for the strip that was on the windowsill there was some slight fading of the yellow where it mixed with the red (it’s now less orange) and the green seems to have faded overall. The colour change is a lot less that that which was suffered by the painting but it occurs to me that the double glazing of my window may have had some UV protection that the shop window didn’t. I think I need to put the “wall” strip in the garden for a year and see how that goes.
Unfortunately my process was a bit too chaotic to make this a nice (and accurate) scientific test. For a start I didn’t write down the dates for when I started and finished and I think there are several other variations that are worth testing. For example:
- Different brands of polymer clay
- Colours mixed with white
- Black polymer clay
- Clay exposed directly to sunlight (outside)
So in conclusion there was definitely some colour fading of the yellow and green. Was it significant enough that I don’t want to make any more paintings? Is it unreasonable to expect no change? Was it less faded than before because it’s a new formula or a different environment or because it’s fully saturated colours?
I don’t know!
I told you I wasn’t a good scientist, but I thought I’d share with you what I have found out so far anyway. Maybe in another year I’ll have some results for how the colour strip fares directly outside. In the meantime please let me know if you’ve done similar tests or if you have better information.
I have finally finished editing and uploading a tutorial for making a kaleidoscope cane. I have the footage where I used this cane to make beads, but as you can tell I’m pretty slow at the editing phase so I’m not sure when that will be complete.
This is part of the sample challenge that I set for myself. If you’d like to join in too, get yourself 24 different colours of polymer clay that are 1oz each and use them all up. You can use an actual sample pack or use what you’ve got and mix up your own colours (that’s what I did). Tag what you make with #24ozPolymerClay so that we can find each other on the socials.